Explore Nolan Park

There are tons of fun and free activities for the whole family on Governors Island this summer – especially in Nolan Park.

Take a look at the historic 19th century officers’ homes in Nolan Park, all painted yellow. Image courtesy of The Trust.

The park is a remnant of the 19th century, lined by charming yellow houses that were once home to military officers. These homes now serve another purpose – every summer arts and cultural organizations turn the Nolan Park houses into exhibits, shops, and activity spaces.

Stop by building 4A and you’ll be surrounded by the masterful photography of Robert Capa; head over to building 18 to experience NYC during the Civil War; and if you find yourself in building 10B, you’ll be privy to an array of one-of-a-kind, hand-made crafts by Brooklyn ARTery. A full listing of summer programs in Nolan Park can be found at the end of this post!

capa_kodachrome 023 Visit the “Capa in Color” exhibit to see what everyone’s looking at! Image courtesy of ICP.

Nolan Park is also a wonderful spot to relax in the shade of an elm tree, set up a picnic, or enjoy a walk along crisscrossing brick pathways. The south end of the park is especially scenic – there you can find the Chapel of Saint Cornelius, another exhibition center that houses some of the most spectacular performances on Governors Island!

GSA13 St. Cornelius Chapel in Nolan Park. Image courtesy of The Trust.

What to do in Nolan Park:

- Enjoy the Park! While there are many exciting events offered in the houses of Nolan Park, the Park itself is a tranquil area full of century-old trees that offer great shade. Make time for a picnic, relax on a bench to do some people watching, or just go for a leisurely stroll.

Take a walk through Nolan Park and be surrounded by  the charms of 19th century New York. Take a walk through Nolan Park and be surrounded by the charms of 19th century New York. Image courtesy of The Trust.

- Capa in Color and a preview of Sebastiao Salgado: Genesis (Presented by the International Center of Photography). Thursdays through Sundays from 11:30AM - 5:30PM. House 4A. View a captivating selection of  color photographs by Robert Capa and preview the upcoming ICP exhibition “Sebastião Salgado: Genesis.”

- Parallax (Presented by the Holocenter). Weekends from 12PM - 6PM. House 4B. See puzzling and tantalizing works of holographic artistry plus glasses-free 3-D photography. 

- Surprise House. August 16th - September 14th. House 6B. Embrace the uncertain & engineer the unexpected - play, connect, and explore the unknown in this mysterious house designed by Surprise Industries. 

- Envision the Dream - Artwork by Seniors. September 5th - 21st from 10AM - 6PM. House 10A.  Eleven senior artists exhibit work in group and solo exhibitions. Because the art world tends to focus on new and upcoming artists or established artists, often mid-career senior artists find themselves overlooked by the mainstream media. This exhibition will draw attention and recognition to a diverse group of talented senior artists working in both traditional and non-traditional styles.   

See captivating artwork such as this at the "Envision the Dream" exhibit. Image courtesy of New Century Artists, Inc. See captivating artwork such as this at the “Envision the Dream” exhibit. Image courtesy of New Century Artists, Inc.

- Brooklyn ARTery. Weekends from 10AM-5PM. Workshop on Saturdays from 2PM - 4PM. House 10B. Stop by for beautiful handbags, jewelry, artisanal food, housewares, scarves, beauty products and more! Also featuring The ARTery Gallery - a rotating exhibit of professional artists.

- Free Art Island Outpost (Presented by the Children’s Museum of the Arts). Weekends from 10AM - 5PM. Houses 11 & 14. Collaborate with other visitors on a variety of themed art workshops including painting, sound design, sculpture, animation, podcasting, and more!

- Better than Jam. Fridays & Mondays from 11AM - 5PM. Weekends from 10AM - 6PM. House 16. The Brooklyn shop of all locally handmade products will be taking the ferry ride over, and bringing with it the creations of New York City’s most talented designers, artists and crafters. With the help of the Etsy New York Street Team, the shop will also host family-friendly demonstrations and workshops on Saturdays from 2PM - 4PM to show and teach visitors some of their skills

- Roadside Attraction (Presented by Third Rail Projects). Open Studios: 8/2, 8/22, 9/13, from 1PM - 5PM; 9/16, 9/17, from 10AM-12PM; Workshops: 7/23, 8/2, from 1PM - 5PM; Invited Showing: 9/18 through 9/21, from 12PM - 6PM. House 17. Third Rail Projects will host open outdoor rehearsals, open studios, public workshops, and performances throughout the summer based on a mobile, site-specific dance/theater work for 6 performers and a 1970’s Coleman pop-up camper  
Don't miss the whimsical and energetic performances of "Roadside Attraction." Image courtesy of Third Rail Projects. Don’t miss the whimsical and energetic performances of “Roadside Attraction.” Image courtesy of Third Rail Projects.

-  The Civil War & NYC (Presented by the New York Historical Society). Weekends from 10AM - 6:30PM. House 18.  The exhibition portrays the complexities that arose in our city during the period of the American Civil War. Using photographs, newspapers, and works of art, Student Historian Teen Leaders have curated a nuanced view of the Civil War showing multiple perspectives and many surprises.   

- TransFORMation (Presented by the Sculptor’s Guild). Fridays through Sundays from 11AM - 5PM. House 19.  This exhibition encompasses six separately themed shows as well as outdoor work.    

- Tattered & Torn: Part 2 (Presented by Empire Historic Arts District). Weekends from 11AM - 6PM. House 20A.  The exhibit features less-than-pristine costumes from museum collections. Although the condition of the garments is too poor for them to be displayed in museums, the Empire Historic Arts Fund believes they remain a resource for those interested in 19th century fashion design.  

Just one of the many captivating outfits from the "Tattered <span class=& Torn" exhibit." width="300" height="224" /> Just one of the many captivating outfits from the “Tattered & Torn” exhibit. Image Courtesy of Art Observer.

- Mu-Math: Mobile Math Unit to Promote Mathematical Thinking (Presented by Living Better Through Mathematics). Weekends 11AM - 5PM. House 20B. Featuring a dozen different mathematics investigations ranging from algebra to topology, the exhibit is appropriate for the math curious beginning with age 7 and ending with those who consider themselves “ageless.”


For a detailed listing on all the exhibits both in Nolan Park and throughout the Island this summer, visit http://www.govisland.com/html/visit/calendar.shtml!